Family Mourns Mystery Sudden Child Death
By Dianne Anderson
Standing strong together has never been as tough as it is right now for one local family coming to grips this holiday season with the loss of their little King Messiah Horn.
Recently, the four-year-old King died in his sleep from unexplained causes.
His uncle, Oliver Petty, said that no one knows yet what could have happened. Horn was asleep in the same bed with his three other small siblings. He just never woke up the next morning.
“There’s no rhyme or reason at this moment,” Petty said. “He was in perfect health, no asthma, no sleep apnea or heart problems. It’s trying to figure out what is the cause.”
His other siblings, age 2, 6 and 8, were also overnight at their grandmother’s house. King woke up once during the night to get a sip of water. He went back to bed with his siblings, and never awoke.
Petty said the little ones are having a hard time understanding what happened at the most basic level, and probably won’t understand for a while.
“They know he’s gone, but they don’t realize that he’s never coming back,” he said.
Nothing can prepare a family for this moment.
Petty, who has been handling the affairs of the family through the ordeal, said nobody knows what to do next. They are now trying to raise funds from scratch, not only to cover funeral costs, but also to have a second autopsy.
So far, they have raised a little over $6,800, which is hoped to cover funeral costs, but they are also trying to raise funds to help the parents with time off from work in getting through the first stage of grieving, which is shock. He said the second autopsy may cost another $4,000.
Most parents think of insurance for adults, to cover them into their old age to help their children as survivors, but no one thinks of the importance of covering the children, he said.
As he gets through this process, he thinks back to the past few years in starting his own “It’s Ok To Dream Tour” to help educators reach at-risk kids. Petty, a local entrepreneur, and motivational speaker, said he didn’t think twice about choosing little King in his USC sweatshirt to grace the cover of his book and be the face of his outreach programming.
“Out of my 20 nieces and nephews, it was never a debate who would be the natural choice,” he said. “He had been the face of everything, ironically it just worked out that way. Now it’s crazy that it worked out that way.”
No one knows what happened, but he said Sudden Unexplained Death in Children is something that many people have not heard about. In 2015, SUDC was responsible for the deaths of 216 American children between one and four years old.
Getting through this time of year, he also hopes that everyone will take time to recognize the importance of just telling their relatives, and their children, how much their loved ones mean to them.
Nothing should be taken for granted, he said. Time is the most important commodity anyone has.
“You woke up, you might not have much, but you have life,” he said. “You have others that love you and you love back, that they have life. Cherish those things.”
To contribute to King’s funeral and autopsy, go to https://www.gofundme.com/sendingkinghome
To learn about SUDC, see https://sudc.org/sudc-facts/statistics